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Attorney Disqualification Disclosure Of Confidential Information

Costello v. Buckley (2016) 245 Cal.App.4th 748
This opinion explores a little-utilized ground for attorney disqualification. Costello and Peter Buckley were in a romantic relationship, that Peter’s brother, Robert, acquired confidential information about Costello while he represented her in a real property suit against a neighbor. Years later, Costello sued her former paramour, Peter, for an unpaid debt. Peter hired his brother Robert.
Held: While most successive representation disqualification cases involve use of the “substantial relationship test”, meaning that the former client must show a substantial identity between the factual and legal issues of the successive representations, Costello here showed that confidential information that could be used against her was in fact transmitted to Peter in the prior real property suit. Robert’s disqualification was upheld on an abuse of discretion standard.